Puerto Rico:

Confusion Over Applicability of the Electoral Law to Referendum Process

HRD-93-84: Published: May 28, 1993. Publicly Released: May 28, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO addressed concerns about the conduct of the referendum held in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in December 1991, focusing on the: (1) applicability of electoral law to the referendum; and (2) fairness of the referendum process.

GAO found that: (1) the enabling legislation for the referendum specifically applied the electoral law to the referendum; (2) the legislation also provided that if there was incompatibility between the electoral law and the referendum's enabling act, legislative provisions would prevail; (3) the electoral law specifies that the State Election Commission is responsible for investigating and resolving disputes to the election process; (4) 5 of the 6 cases filed with the Commission in conjunction with the referendum alleged that the referendum did not comply with the electoral law and regulations; (5) the Commission ruled that the electoral law applied only to general elections; (6) the enabling legislation provided $4.7 million to satisfy referendum costs; (7) the restrictions on political parties' private contributions did not apply to the referendum; and (8) since the Ommission ruled that electoral law did not apply to the referendum, Puerto Rico's government agencies continued with their advertising campaigns.

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